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Texas’ Heroes, Students, and Job Creators Move America Forward


I want to fill you in on my final stops in the Lone Star State meeting with students, service members, and job creators before heading back to a busy work period in Washington.

After wrapping up my border tour in South Texas, I headed to Abilene to meet with the local Military Affairs Committee and discuss aircraft operations at Dyess Air Force Base, ongoing and future upgrades, and the community impact of the base.

Throughout my career in the Senate, I have been a champion for Dyess Air Force Base and fought for the needs of bases across the state of Texas to be prioritized. In my meeting with the Committee, we discussed two recent amendments I authored for the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), both of which focused on ensuring Dyess remains the Air Force's premier bombing base. I was informed that as the Air Force transitions from the B-1 bomber to the B-21, it would add significant capacity, but it also adds some uncertainty. I assured the Committee members I'm focused on making sure we see a continuity of mission at Dyess as we make that transition so Dyess can continue to contribute to the mission of the Air Force and enrich the greater Abilene community.

After my meeting, I spoke to local reporters about the state of our nation's chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan:

"I've had multiple conference calls in the past couple of weeks with the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. On those calls, they've discussed what they characterized as the steps that the Taliban needs to take to be welcomed into the community of civilized nations. [...] The Taliban doesn't want to be welcomed into the community of civilized nations. They are vicious terrorists who want to kill us. And this administration is hopelessly naive if they believe otherwise. But secondly, incompetence. The drawdown and listen; I'm one who believes it was time to come home from Afghanistan. The 20 years was long, and we shouldn't be engaged in forever wars. But the fact that we should come home doesn't mean you do so in an incompetent way that leaves havoc and a disaster behind you. [...] And there are at least two decisions they made that were utterly indefensible. Number one, they abandoned the Bagram Airfield. Bagram is a secure military base, we put over a billion dollars building Bagram, and it has two world-class runways. [...] The consequence of surrendering Bagram to the Taliban was that when we were engaged in the evacuation, we were forced to go to the Kabul International Airport, a commercial airport in a dense urban environment and an urban environment that was controlled by the Taliban. It would have been much safer to evacuate the Americans and our allies from Bagram with secure airstrips with a perimeter designed to withstand attacks, rather than forcing everyone to go to a dangerous environment at the Kabul airport."

That afternoon, I traveled from Abilene to Midland to meet with local small business owners and celebrate a bipartisan victory for Texans -- the Interstate 14 designation. The Midland and Odessa Transportation Group joined me to discuss how the I-14 designation is a huge legislative victory for the entire Permian Basin region.

The amendment was authored by me and my Democrat colleague, Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.), and it designates an interstate that will run from the Permian Basin, all the way to the Atlantic through Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia. This, in turn, will enrich all of our communities by connecting major military bases and making it easier to move goods and services, including the output from the shale revolution driven by the Midland-Odessa area. I have long said transportation dollars should go to where the need is, and it is clear West Texas is the place for this investment as it continues to drive so much of the Lone Star State's growth, and the growth of the country.

The following week, I traveled to Austin to present a Purple Heart award to U.S. Army Specialist Evan Nelson at Camp Mabry and thank him for defending our freedom on behalf of 29 million Texans. It was an honor to present him with this award for his distinguished service in Afghanistan. Specialist Nelson was injured in combat in 2014 and never received the proper recognition for his heroism and sacrifice. After learning this, my office worked to clear through bureaucratic delays to properly honor this soldier and ensure his service and sacrifice were not forgotten.

Later that week, I headed to Waco to tour the flagship Texas State Technical College Campus, one of our state's top two-year institutions, and meet with the school's leadership, Chancellor Mike Reeser. On my tour, I was able to see three of the school's top five programs -- Welding, Precision Machining, and Aviation -- and view the institution's expansion plans. This tour also gave me an opportunity to continue the momentum started with the introduction of my bill, the Education Freedom Scholarships and Opportunity Act, a bill Texas State Technical College endorsed and continues to support. In my tour, I was able to see the incredible work the school is doing to provide opportunities to students hoping to acquire trade skills in industries that contribute significantly to the Texas economy and provide good wages for Texas families.

For my last stop of the week, I traveled to College Station to tour Texas A&M's Bush School of Government and Public Service, one of the premier graduate programs in the county within the Texas A&M System. There, I met with Dean Mark Welsh and had the opportunity to talk to students about the challenges facing our country, both at home and across the globe. It was critical to visit a school with such a great tradition of public service, particularly military service, that has blessed this state. That spirit helps infuse the Bush School with a seriousness of purpose to address the challenges facing the nation with the same vigor, integrity, and honor embodied most by the university and former President George Herbert Walker Bush, the namesake of the school.

It was encouraging to see young people who want to make a difference in the world looking to begin a career dedicated to public service. I took the opportunity to encourage them to follow their passions and improve the lives of others, reminding them that at the end of the day, the legacy any of us leave are the lives that we have touched around us. I encouraged them to try to find a way to disagree on the substance and have meaningful debates on a policy that breaks through the partisan divide.

In my discussions at both schools, we talked about jobs and economic growth in Texas. My number one priority in the Senate has always been jobs-more jobs, higher wages, and more opportunity -- because that is the top priority of Texans. Every part of Texas wants more jobs and higher wages, and I reiterated to the students that the key to getting them is creating an environment where small businesses can expand, grow, and prosper. Like me, these students are seeing people from around the country flood the state of Texas, nearly 1,000 people a day, because Texas is where the growth is; and because of schools like A&M's Bush School and Texas State Technical College, it's where growth will stay.

Over the past month traveling around the great State of Texas, I had the privilege of visiting 22 cities across the state-from East Texas to West Texas, the Panhandle, the Hill Country, all the way down to the Rio Grande Valley. From my meetings with Texas families, business leaders, local officials, military members, and law enforcement, I look forward to taking their concerns and voice back to Washington as my fight to represent the 29 million incredible people of Texas continues.

Keep Texas Strong,


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